The Origins of Common Currency Symbols

Have you ever wondered how our currencies got the specific symbols they have? Although you never wondered where these signs came from, their origins are a fascinating look at financial and etymological history.

The “greenback”

The roots of the dollar ($) go back to Spain. In 1785, the United States began using their currency and modeled it on that of Spain. Different theories surround the exact origin of the $, but some experts have referred to the sign as an abbreviation for the word “peso”. Pesos were expressed in “ps” and transformed into an “S” with a line through it as a short version of the “p”.Inasmuch asHave

Another theory proposes that the double-line version represents an acronym for the United States by placing an abbreviated “U” above the “S”.


The Euro (€) is the youngest currency on our list, but the second youngest symbol, and it took a long time to arrive. The euro became the sole currency of member states in 2002. However, its origin dates back to the Maastricht Treaty of 1991.Inasmuch asRegarding the origin of the euro sign, the designers submitted their ideas and a winner was determined by means of a poll and a possible choice made by the European Commission. The Commission issued a statement stating that the Greek symbol epsilon inspired the euro sign. Epsilon is an “E” in English, representing the first letter of the word “Europe”. The parallel lines through the epsilon must certify the stability of the currency.Inasmuch asHave

The pound

Even though Britain was part of the European Union for decades and is now Brexiting, the pound is still there. The origins of the pound sign (£) can be traced back to “libra”, the Latin term for scales or weighing scales.Inasmuch asInasmuch as

Theories abound on the origin of the term “pound sterling”, but one point on which most currency experts agree is the connection between weight and money. The title seems quite appropriate as the original sterling was designed as a pound of pure silver.Inasmuch asInasmuch as

The Japanese yen

The yen was adopted as the official currency of Japan in May 1871.Inasmuch asLike many other countries, the roots of currency lie in money. The yen (¥) was originally designed to weigh approximately 24.26 grams of pure silver or 1.5 grams of pure gold.Inasmuch asCurrently, yen coins are made of aluminum.Inasmuch asHave

The word “yen” is pronounced like “en” in Japanese. Yen translates to “round object”, describing the shape of coins used by other countries. The “Y” used in the yen symbol may have been adopted due to foreigners’ propensity to pronounce the word “en” preceded by a “y”.Inasmuch asHave

The Swiss”

The Swiss Franc (CHF) made its debut in 1798. Many governing bodies made the currency until, finally, the federal government stepped in. In 1848, the federal government considered itself the only entity authorized to issue money. The franc became the official currency of Switzerland in 1850.Inasmuch asInasmuch as

Years ago, France was probably the country most often associated with francs, but now the Swiss franc is the only franc still issued. One franc is equal to 100 centimes, the French equivalent of the word “cent”.

The Swedish krona

Krona (kr) means “crown” in Swedish. The krone was adopted as the official currency of Sweden in 1873. Sweden kept things simple by using “kr” as its currency symbol. The original crown was worth 1/2480 kilograms of pure gold.Inasmuch asSince then, kronor (plural of krona) content includes several metals such as tin, iron, copper, and silver.

The Australian dollar

The Australian dollar ($) is also a young currency. It was introduced in its present form in 1966 after converting from the use of books. Several names have been proposed for the new currency, including “boomer”, “kanga” and “roo”.Inasmuch asRobert Menzies, then Prime Minister, wanted to call the mint the “royal”, but he lost the name battle.Inasmuch asHave

The Canadian dollar

Canada is another country that has exchanged pounds for dollars ($). In 1841, one Canadian pound equaled four US dollars. Recently, the Canadian dollar and the US dollar have been trading at or near parity. Several provinces had different currencies, so the federal government intervened in 1871 to establish unity.Inasmuch asInasmuch as

The Canadian dollar is often denoted by C$ to differentiate it from other dollar denominations.

The Indian Rupee

The rupee (₹) is one of the oldest currencies in the world, with origins dating back to the 6th century BCE.Inasmuch asInterestingly, the currency never had a symbol until its introduction in 2010.Inasmuch asPreviously, it was common to use Rs or Re to denote rupees. The symbol was chosen after a contest between Indian citizens.

The symbol has a meaning imbued in it. For example, the parallel lines at the top refer to the tricolor Indian flag. At the same time, it’s designed to fit alongside its famous, easy-to-draw and understand siblings like dollar and euro signs.


They say money does not pay, but the type of money depends on the country you are in. Currency values ​​may not be stable, but currencies themselves have a habit of staying in place.

James V. Hayes